Once the loop through Monument Valley was through, it was straight on toward Page, Arizona where both Antelope Canyon and HorseShoe Bend can be found! A quick 1.75hr drive from Monument Valley into the threshold of Page sits Antelope Canyon. I was very excited about this part of the trip. I had only ever seen pictures of this swerving and winding wonderland. I couldn't wait to see what the canyon looked like in person - it DID NOT disappoint.
You can only venture into the canyons with a guide. We did some price comparing before landing ourselves with the laid back crew at Ken's Tours of Lower Antelope Canyon. Done on foot, the canyon is just a short walk from the Shop and Kiosk. There are steep ladders that lower you down into the Canyon, so watch your step! The ground floor is comprised of red dust and the walls are grooved and etched from bottom to top. It is a stunning landscape!
We enjoyed Ken's Tours because along with endless info about the geography surrounding the canyon, they were very in touch with the photographic beauty too. The guide would lead each member of the small 11 person group to the perfect placement for photos. Over the years the natives have named different formations after their rebalance to either nature or animals. Like seen here, with the Eagle of the left and Shark on the right!
We walked the quarter of a miles canyon very slowly, embracing every ounce of its beauty. I have never seen anything like this canyon in my life and not sure I will again. It was a very special, reasonable, and memorable part of this week out on the road. Hungry and ready to unload our car for the day, we head into the town of Page to check- in to our hotel before Sunset at Horseshoe Bend! Ahhh!
Next Up: HorseShoe Bend
Page, Arizona is a medium sized and unassuming town. There are larger grocery chains, strip malls and all the makings of suburban life. This is a great stopping point along the way to restock car snacks, load up on a couple Subways sandwiches and still be able to see INSANE earthly wonders like HorseShoe Bend. If headed to Bryce Canyon next, STOCK UP on food and snacks. I'll explain more in a bit!
This stunner was formed by a tight meandering of the Colorado River. With a drop off of close to 1000ft., it makes you weak in your knees in more ways than one. Getting to the Bend means just a quick turn off form Hwy. 89. There is designated parking and a rather short uphill hike to plateau. It is roughly 1.5 miles round trip. Sunset was a BUSY time to head up to the HorseShoe but obviously very worth it!
The best part about this place, aside from the view, was overhearing the thoughts and feelings of the other travelers around us. People from ALL OVER THE WORLD had some to a remote park of Northern Arizona to have the same exact experience you were seeking. We photographed a group from the Bay Area, a family from India, and a couple and their brand new puppy from middle America. (Emily evening got a picture of her and the pooch in front of the Bend! Hah!) Photoshoots were happening from artists speaking Japanese and a slew of other languages could be heard all around you.
This vast view, during sunset, was the most reflective portion of the trip so far. I sat there for several minutes, feeling small, feeling in awe, feeling at peace, and feeling closer to my fellow man. I also felt very appreciative and fortunate to have a friend like Emily willing to come along with me. Emily and I are very different people. Our existential opinions differ greatly, the way we seek evidentiary truth is of opposition, the conversations we have with the cosmos look nothing alike, AND STILL we can spend 6 days with one another, listening, validating, encouraging and learning. She was the perfect companion.
We crashed down for the night at a Comfort Inn before it was up and at 'em, back up into Utah. Bryce Canyon was a 2.5hr drive North - it seems like a bit of a detour, but with our Final Destination being Las Vegas, it made more sense to have the Grand Canyon be our last stop with only a 3.75hr drive to the airport vs. Bryce's 4+hr. I had seen beautiful images before from Bryce Canyon. The deep orange spikes are hard to look away from! Onward we went.
Next Up: Bryce Canyon
Going into the trip, Bryce Canyon was that space I knew least about. I had a generally idea of what to expect out of all of the other destinations, but not so much Bryce. In the small town of Bryce just before the National Park, there isn't much going on. ESPECIALLY in the off-season. Because this area get most of its traffic in the summer months, many of the restaurants and shops are not even open until May. This proved to be very frustrating and confusing to a couple of tired and hungry travelers. Like I had mention before, if you can manage to take a few sandwiches and some grocery finds with you from Page, do some. I am telling you, GHOST TOWN!
Once we got in we head straight to the park. I found our way to a couple of Easy view points and turn offs. This day in particular, we were tired and not too fond of the idea of heading deep into the Canyon. It would have been and steep climb back up. Both Emily and I were totally okay with catching a few views and calling it a day. Our first stop was Bryce Point. An easily accessible overlook show casing all the good stuff you came here for. Emily and I went off the trail for a second onto this rock peninsula for the best shots.
We hopped back in the car and decided to just let the road lead. If we saw something that looked appealing we would stop. Natural Bridge was the next place we needed to see! Though we has already spent an entire day of this trip was a bunch of other arches, this one seemed special nestled against the background and the still-there patches of ice and snow.
I believe our final stop of the day was up to Peek-a-boo point. A small and easy paved trail to a sprawling look out. We took our time up there. Both still with cell service, we Facetimed with our loved ones to show where the adventure that day had taken us. Shawn was pretty darn impressed with what he saw, even through his iPhone screen. It was quiet and there was a chill in the air; I definitely had a feeling as if I was the queen of the world!
We stayed in the town of Bryce at The Best Western Plus Ruby's Inn. One of less than a handful of places to stay in the deserted area. In the off season, the ONLY restaurant to eat in the immediate area is the cafeteria style restaurant in the lobby of the hotel. If I knew then, what I know now: I would have brought in something from a far, or eaten before getting into the area. Keep this in mind if you should visit any time but summer.
Dinner was slim pickins! We more or less made the most of the soft-serve machine and got out of there. That night in the hotel, I introduced Emily to all of the many face-filters on Snapchat. We made videos laughing so hard I cried. Overall, I would say that Bryce Canyon was considered more of a day of rest; Ready to embark on our next triumph: The Grand Canyon.